... for residents who love local produce, the winter months can still bring a bounty from area farms.
Winter Sun Farms, the community-supported agriculture program offered through Blue Ridge Food Ventures, returns for its third year.
In the second week in December, subscribers will start picking up their local vegetables and fruits that have been processed and frozen or turned into purees and jams at the commercial kitchens at the Enka campus of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.
The pilot program had 100 subscribers the first year, then grew to 225 participants last year. “We’ll have enough this year for 300,” said Mary Lou Surgi, executive director of Blue Ridge Food Ventures. “Our only limitation really is our freezers. It takes quite a bit of space to store all the frozen food.” ...
For more on Winter Sun Farms, check out "Local strawberries in winter?".
Winter: the big shivering elephant in the room. Sure, it’s difficult to imagine the weeks without our many bustling tailgate markets now, but the time is approaching. Don’t panic just yet, though. Thanks to the folks at Blue Ridge Food Ventures, you can enjoy a perfect summer sun-ripened tomato come February.
How? Sign up for their Winter Sun Farms CSA, and you’ll get four months (December through March) of local fruits and veggies that were received from farmers and frozen at their peak of goodness. They offer some items fresh, too. “You don’t have to go [to the grocery] and buy from California or Argentina,” says Chris Reedy, BRFV’s farm outreach program manager, with a sense of true satisfaction. “We’re happy that we can give people a choice for local food in the wintertime.”
In his role, Reedy has always connected with area farmers to share with them information about BRFV’s resources, including their FDA-inspected kitchen where produce for the CSA is processed. But he took on the new task of finding farmers interested in growing for the winter program last year, after executive director, Mary Lou Surgi, heard about the Winter Sun Farms CSA in New York’s Hudson Valley. The New York program, started by Jim Hyland in the winter of 2006, now serves as a mentor and partner organization. “We’re not a typical franchising model, for sure,” Hyland says. “But we do think Winter Sun Farms could be in a position to grow as a national brand that’s regionally based." ...
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